The most popular and hardest gemstones on earth are diamonds. No other gemstone or even ‘stone’ that is harder than diamond on earth and diamond can only be polished or cut by another diamond itself. However, diamonds and many other "hard" gemstones can chip. Although they are very hard but don’t forget they are also brittle.
Toughness of a gemstone may be defined as the ability to resist chipping. Jade is the toughest gemstone in nature. What makes Jade the toughest gemstone is due to its strong, interlocking fiber crystal. It may be fashioned or cut into statues or other figures and even axe heads with ease, but it’s resistance to chipping is intensely high. Early hammers and tools have been found which were formed from this gem mineral. Since the toughest gemstone is jade, it is also the most difficult to polish and carve. It requires highly trained workmanship as well as creative aesthetics to create a piece of fine jade jewelry.
The rarity of a gemstone will contribute to it’s value. Generally the rarer a material, the higher its value. A fine quality rubies are one of the rarest gemstones, it costs even more expensive than diamonds and may easily exceed $10,000 per carat. However, there is no connsensus on what is the rarest gemstone according to the Gemological Institute of America because there is no consensus on the definition of "rarity".
Most Colorful Gemstone
Tourmaline and opal are known to be the world’s most colorful gemstones:
- Tourmalines are the only gemstones that occur in all colors and for a long time has been called by mineral collectors as the “Rainbow Gem”. These stones are also known to attract dust when displayed under hot lights. Together with quartz, they will develop an electrical charge when heated. Tourmaline is also the only gemstone that has three sided prisms in its crystal structure.
- Opals are the most colorful gemstones, but some forms are colorless. Opals are best known for their flashes of color, some varieties have no flashes of color, it can be white, it can be black and some of it can be dull and dead. Iridescent (not opalescence) is the best word to describe the brilliant flashes of opal’s colors. Top quality opals can be more valuable than diamonds. Black opal is also the only gemstone that is believed to bring fortunes and good luck to all signs of the zodiac.
Lightest and Softest Gemstone
Amber is the lightest and softest gemstone known, it is light enough to float in salt wwater, which aided in its discovery. This organic gem originates from the sticky resin of prehhistoric trees. Since Amber is the lightest gemstone, choker of large, carved beads is made from this unusual stone. Baltic amber is the strongest amber and therefore favored for use in amber jewelry. Fossilized tree sap need to be at least 30 million years old to be considered as an amber.
Most Creatively Striped Gemstone by Nature
No other gemstone that is more creatively and naturally striped than agate. The banded appearance is due to other substances which may include quartz (amethyst or rock crystal), chalcedony (jasper, onyx, carnelian) and etc. Onyx (a variety of quartz) is similar to banded agate, it is only that in onyx the bands are straight and parallel.
Largest Faceted Gemstone
Topaz holds the record for the world’s largest faceted gemstone. It was mined in Brazil, the infamous stone is a whopping 36854 carats and maesures 34.9 x 15.5 x 12.1 cm – according to the American Gem Trade Association.